books, children, education, job, science, technology

Beautiful: 2 Books from No Starch Press that Make Coding Fun for Kids (and Adults Too!)

STEM learning. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. It’s one of the hottest topics in education today and for good reason. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1.2 million job openings for computer science graduates by 2018, but current U.S. graduation rates will provide qualified workers for only one-third of those positions,” says Edie Fraser of the Huffington Post. No Starch Press is doing its part to turn that trend around with the release of 2 new books aimed at teaching kids to code.

Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming (Ages 10+) and Super Scratch Programming Adventure! (Ages 8+) are kid-friendly, carefully crafted, and eminently entertaining. They take the complex art and science of coding and turn its mastery into a game. These books break down coding into bite-sized, step-by-step lessons in a language that is easily understood by those who are not familiar with coding.

Known for its ease of use for beginning coders, Python is a powerful programming language. It’s remarkably easy to read and write when compared to other programming languages. It is free to install on all basic operating systems. Python for Kids will help your little one builds graphics and games, giving them the satisfaction of seeing their work come to life.

Scratch is a programming language created by MIT Media Lab to build video games. It is also free to install on all basic operating systems. Each chapter of Super Scratch Programming Adevnture! helps kids to design and build increasingly complex video games while teaching them the basic principles of coding.

Best of all, these books are not only valuable for kids, but also for adults who are interested in learning how to code. In my own pursuit to understand programming on a deeper level, I have started to work through them myself. Whether you just want to know a little bit more about coding or have an interest in developing a deep knowledge in the subject, these books are the perfect place to begin your journey into the wide and wonderful world of code.

Increasingly, writing code is becoming a necessary job skill and we would all do well to at least deepen our appreciation of what it takes to build the websites and applications that we access on a daily basis. Who knows? Learning to code may just make you the most valuable person around the office or it may prompt you to take your career in a completely new direction. One thing’s for sure – coders are in high demand and will only become more so as our appetite for ever-more sophisticated tech products and services continues to grow. You might as well join them and these books give you the perfect jumping off point to get yourself in the game.

3 thoughts on “Beautiful: 2 Books from No Starch Press that Make Coding Fun for Kids (and Adults Too!)”

  1. Christa, this is terrific! I’ve exposed my kids to Scratch (a little bit) and they occasionally come back to it on their own when *playing* games gets boring and they feel like *making* one — or at least like doing something fun and creative on my laptop.

    In my experience there are “believers” who think teaching kids programming (a) can be done with any kid, and (b) is the greatest learning experience you can give anyone, and it gives their brains magical sparkly super powers.

    I don’t. I still think Scratch and other environments like it (I once worked for the company that published Logo & Microworlds) are NOT as approachable as their inventors & fans think. Simple things are really simple to make, but making a program with any complexity **that works the way you pictured in your head** gets real hard, real quick. That requires discipline and logic. Friendly-looking icons don’t change that. Some people experience it and get the programming bug and then care enough to persevere and get good at it, but not everyone does. They just get frustrated that this thing, with all the cutesy graphics, is hard for them to do.

    … That said, seeing you post about Python really gets me excited. I would recommend that for adults before Scratch. Look at a python program and there’s no mistaking the fact that you’re giving a computer instructions. It sets the mood for programming. But, python is simple & spare enough that it’s easier than most languages for beginners to start with, and you can do real-world things pretty easily (e.g., read the contents of a web page into a file, and see it on your screen). I started programming in BASIC way back at age 8, went the Computer Science route, spent 14+ years NOT being a professional programmer, and recently brought myself back to being a newbie — in Python.

    For adults, I would really recommend a course called “Learn Python the Hard Way” — a free version is available online (google it). The author does a great job of introducing programming in small, doable steps.

    GREAT post, Christa. 🙂


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